My wife is infertile, so I decide to have our baby. Our doctor says that a transgender man is fully capable of carrying a child to term just like a cisgender woman. We consider it a sign I hadn’t had a hysterectomy. My insurance was good about paying for my hormone therapy and my mastectomy. However, the insurance company won’t agree to cover in vitro fertilization. We propose using a group of three random men, who are genetic matches for the traits we’re looking for, so no one man would know it was his, then try to claim it. My wife’s a lawyer, so she talks to the adjuster instead of me having to do it. She’s the legal mind behind the idea for the three-man artificial insemination procedure, plus I get pretty bad dysphoria when I’m misgendered on the phone.
My wife threatens to sue our insurance company. She threatens to sue everyone. She throws around her job like a J.D. snob, no matter where we happen to be.
“What are you going to sue us for?” she’s asked.
She rattles off the usual, “Transgender discrimination, disability discrimination.” She adds this time, “Pregnancy discrimination, bad faith.” She throws in about us, “We’re both queer survivors of sexual assault.”
“You’re listed on the policy, why aren’t you the gestational carrier?”
“Challenges,” is all my wife says about that.
It’s exacerbating my gender dysphoria to hear my wife divulge all this information and lob veiled threats over my uterus at the insurance adjuster, so I put in headphones. On the other side of the wall, I’m building a nursery. I do most of the work on the nursery myself. My wife is practically worthless when it comes to any kind of home improvement. She doesn’t even know how to strip paint.
Although the insurance company agrees to cover all of my obstetrical appointments and the actual delivery, they won’t budge on the exclusion for in vitro, but it’s expensive. We simply can’t afford it even with my wife’s salary. My wife’s favorite thing to do when she feels out of control is to play what she likes to call, “double life,” which is to talk to people on the phone while doing some usually obscene shit around the house. She says it’s how she really feels about people, but we live in the kind of world where you can’t tell them, where they couldn’t know. She talks on the phone with the insurance adjuster and strips down totally nude, while I inch the spindle that I’m sanding, meant for our baby’s crib railing, into her. I put the spindle in slowly. While I’m doing that, the idea comes to me that we could just get a man to fuck me instead and consider it a discount. My wife ends the call, but before I remove the spindle, we play “double life” while my wife calls to give an update to her mother, the baby’s would-be grandmother, who says she thinks it’s a wonderful idea that I’m going to try getting pregnant.
We hire a pretty good-looking straight guy who’s a software developer for two hundred dollars. It seems like a good idea, us buying him. He seems less interested in the money than wanting to fuck a trans person. When it’s time, I tell him I’d prefer to be fucked like a guy, so I ask him to do me in the ass. We stand on the linoleum, not on the carpet. I bend over the kitchen sink and put one foot on the counter. It probably looks from behind like I’m trying to mount the garbage disposal. Only when he’s ready to come does he pull out, then finish in me where I’ve asked. A man hasn’t had sex with me like that since I was assaulted. I didn’t even want to touch myself there with my hands anymore. Feeling him is so unpleasant I gag. Thinking about it and actually doing it are two different things. It’s hard to make yourself have sex with someone you don’t like.
I get pregnant, soon I’m showing, but everything in the store for “maternity” is female. It’s mostly floral. For some, being trans is like a flower, but that shit’s not for me. We’re in the twenty-first century now, you know? Where is the “parentage clothing” located? Don’t fucking call me “mommy.”
Most people who are pregnant hate being touched on their bumps. Nobody touches mine. It’s being watched that I hate most. I often get the lingering stare when people see a pregnant man. I never really came out as trans, so I guess this is my coming out. I consider this is my way of playing “double life” among people I don’t really like. Everywhere, everyone seems really concerned. When I’m twenty weeks with a rather perceptible bulge, I’m at the mall shopping for gender-neutral clothing that fit me, when a woman accosts me.
“You’re not a man,” she says to me.
“I’ve heard that all my life,” I reply. “Bullies are so unoriginal.”
“I’m not a bully, just stating a fact,” she says. “You are not a man.”
“You’re a grown-ass woman,” was all I could think to respond.
“You’re voluntarily enjoying the benefits of the patriarchy at the same time you’re enjoying one of the sole benefits of womanhood,” she adds. When I try to walk away, she follows me around the store and asks, “How do you feel about what I just said?”
“Move on to your next victim,” I tell her.
“Do you really consider yourself a victim?” she asks. She follows me out to my car continuing her tirade, and I scramble to lock myself inside. When I get home, I tell my wife about the woman at the mall.
“You shouldn’t be getting into fights when you’re pregnant,” my wife says.
“She started it,” I respond.
“Just avoid the argument.”
“What kind of a lawyer are you?” I think of the only insult that I know will stick.
“You have to let some things roll off your back,” my wife says. “Have whatever you need delivered to the house next time.”
I tell her I certainly will. Then, I say to my wife, “I can’t wait to have this baby. So you can be ‘Mom.’ Do you have any idea how much I actually hate this?”
At the doctor, we don’t ask if it’s a boy or a girl, just if it’s healthy.
“It is,” our obstetrician, Dr. Porterfield, says.
I’m not. My dysphoria is getting worse. I’ve decided I don’t want to carry this baby anymore. Dr. Porterfield performed a dilatation and curettage procedure at twenty weeks to remove it. They called my baby, “biohazardous material.” I don’t tell my wife. Rather, I call my wife and tell her I’d miscarried from the testosterone.
We get a lot of sympathy cards. The baby’s would-be grandmother, my wife’s mother, sends us a teddy bear. I feel very odd about it, simply that it comes to that, that a big teddy bear would come to represent our baby. At Christmas, we put the teddy bear under our tree, which we did this year, and which we’ll do next year, too.
Justin F. Robinette is a graduate of Duke University. He has enjoyed publishing short fiction in online magazines like the Erotic Review magazine, and others. Work about which he’s proud is forthcoming in the winnow magazine and HauntedMTL’s upcoming horror anthology, Queer as Hell.